The complex fabric of relations between the secular and religious sectors in Israeli society motivated the launching of a special joint program at two teacher education colleges in central Israel, one secular and the other religious. The program aimed at acquainting participants with each other and promoting dialogue among them, through academic studies, informal sessions, and meetings of the faculty members. This paper focuses on the first part of a research study that examined the program’s impact on its graduates.
Participants included 133 program graduates from 1999 to 2008, who currently teach in the Israeli educational system. The research methods were both qualitative and quantitative, and the research tools included a telephone survey and a group focus interview.
The findings show that all participants considered the joint course to be on a high level compared to other courses. Their recommendation for continuing the course was based on the importance of meeting with and learning about those who think differently, and on the positive and special atmosphere of this encounter. They believed that the program contributed to changing their viewpoints and helped them develop tolerance toward others. A large proportion were very willing to integrate the ideas they learned in the course in their own learning and teaching. Most felt that being taught jointly by two lecturers contributed to the success of the course, and they were challenged by dialogue between the two, which often involved differences of opinion. Overall, participants perceived the course as having made a major contribution.